Discarded Ipswich cigarettes transformed into seahorse to highlight litter problem
- Credit: JASON ALEXANDER
A seahorse is helping to demonstrate the number of cigarettes being dropped on Suffolk’s streets.
Ciggy the Seahorse was created by the Wildlife Gadgetman Jason Alexander and is made up of 3804 cigarette butts.
Mr Alexander collected the butts with members of Ipswich Central while they went around the Seahorse Trail currently on display in Ipswich.
Inspired by the trail itself and the iconic image of a seahorse holding on to a cotton bud by wildlife photographer Justin Hofman, Mr Alexander set to work to create Ciggy and to post pictures of him online.
Mr Alexander has also collected large amounts of cigarette butts from other areas of Suffolk.
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In one hour he managed to collect 1789 cigarettes from Languard Point in Felixstowe.
In a separate visit to Felixstowe Mr Alexander and a group of young adults from the National Citizens Scheme and Inspire Suffolk managed to collect 2696 cigarettes from the Promenade area.
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Mr Alexander said he had been surprised by the number of cigarettes he had collected on his visits.
“Most people don’t see cigarette butts,” said Mr Alexander.
“There are so many of them you can become blind them.
“Once you notice them you see them everywhere.”
It’s estimated that around four and a half trillion butts are thrown away each year.
Emma Lightfoot from Ipswich Central was one of those taking in the walk with Mr Alexander.
She said:“It’s important to our businesses to have a clean town centre and residents and tourists.
“It shows more needs to be done.”
Mr Alexander says that most people don’t realise that the butts contain plastic meaning they take around 10 - 12 years to break down.
He thinks that more should be done to deal with the amount of cigarettes that are being dropped with cigarette butt return schemes and changes to cigarette packaging to show environmental damage among his suggestions.
It’s not the first time that Mr Alexander has taken unwanted rubbish and turned it into something new.
A few months ago Mr Alexander and local artist Bon Collins created Scruff the plastic dragon from waste plastic to highlight the problem material.
What’s being done by our councils to deal with littering in Suffolk?
Across East Anglia, local councils are adopting different strategies to dealing with the problem of litter.
In Suffolk Coastal and Waveney, fines of up to £80 can be issued for littering. These fines are reduced to £60 if they are paid within a fortnight of being issued.
Between April and July this year, Waveney issued 16 fixed penalty notices for littering, 13 of which were paid.
In Suffolk Coastal this number was 12, of which six had been paid.
A spokesman for the councils said: “Our cleansing teams are out daily, working to keep our district clean, but it is very difficult for the councils to monitor and be aware of every occurrence.
“Therefore, we do urge the public to report any littering they may come across so we can get it cleaned up as soon as possible.
“Please tell us about any littering at www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/litter or if you prefer, call us on 01502 562 111.”
In Ipswich fines of £80 are imposed but are only dropped to £60 if paid within a week.
A new campaign was got underway a few weeks ago to encourage visitors and residents to love the streets in and around Ipswich by cleaning up after themselves.
Represented by Digby the Octopus, the campaign came after concerns were raised about the amount of litter on Ipswich’s streets.
Ipswich Borough Council says it has seven operatives cleaning the town centre throughout the week.
More than 100 litter bins are located in the town centre most of which the council say are emptied between two and four times a day.
A borough council spokesman said: “We have invested in new equipment to clean our streets and spend hundreds of hours every week sweeping, washing and picking up litter.
“But the main point is that everyone – not just the council – is responsible for keeping our streets and open spaces clean.
“This is why we have launched a major new campaign – Love Your Street – that urges everyone to play their part.
“We want to encourage people to use litter bins, don’t drop butts and gum and take a pride in their local area.”
Earlier this year Ipswich Central installed cigarette bins which allowed smokers to have their say on a range of fun topics when they had finished with their cigarettes.